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WSI News - News Watch

Good News for Chicago & Sox Fans!

filed by George Bova

April 9, 2007

"Let the buyer beware" was the sage advice offered back in 2005 by Don Wycliff, the former public editor of the Chicago Tribune newspaper.  He wasn't offering advice to Sam Zell,  new Tribune owner pending final approval.  Wycliff was offering his "caveat emptor" advice to the Tribune's readers.  Don't trust the Tribune to shoot straight, Chicago; Trust your own instincts. 

So the first news of Sam Zell's plans for the Tribune is the plan already announced to sell the Chicago Cubs after the 2007 season is over. 

Where are the new quotes from Wycliff?  If you'll indulge us to speculate one moment, perhaps Wycliff would say, "It's about time!"  And speaking as Sox Fans, we couldn't agree more.

The Tribune media empire is soon to look like one of those frogs you dissected in biology class back in high school.  First the Lovable Losers baseball division is to be removed from the cadaver, but that's only the beginning of the wider science project that will have various parts of the Tribune media empire scattered amongst several different owners. 

And for the first time in nearly 26 years, there is now a very good chance that not a single one of the thousands of hired shills working for any of these major Chicago media outlets will have to struggle with how to fairly report Sox news versus their own sister division, the goofballs hosting a summer-long Mardi Gras for unemployed drunks while losing 90 games.

As first noted here two weeks ago, the Tribune finally got around to reporting that Sam Zell faces stiff regulatory scrutiny for keeping the Tribune's Chicago newspaper, radio station and television channel.  As first noted here two weeks ago, the grandfather clause that allowed the Tribune to monopolize all these Chicago media outlets -- going all the way back to the 1920's -- will not be extended to a new owner.  The FCC has the whip hand, and there is no amount of rationalizing by the likes of the usual cast of clowns (for example, Tribune internet flunky George Knue) that will believe the absurdity that owning newspaper, a TV station, and a radio station in the same market -- plus a baseball team for good measure! -- is no conflict of interest at all.

George, your absurd assertions never passed any Sox Fans' laugh test.  Now stand by and watch with the rest of us as the U.S. government turns the outfit you work for into Chicago's biggest media eunuch.  As Don Wycliff might say, "It's about time!"

Naturally there are True Believers still residing deep inside Tribune Tower.  One of them is Shaun Sheehan, a Tribune Washington lobbyist.  He was dutifully quoted four days ago by his fellow Tribune employee, reporter Susan Chandler.  Sheehan bravely declares, "We have the law, we have the expert agency and we've got the court."  Could the moustachio'd little tycoon from the Monopoly board game have stated it any better?  Too funny... Mr. Sheehan forgets he doesn't control the U.S. government's regulatory machinery like he controls Chicago's media.  If only he had built that hotel on Park Place...

Such brave talk, but utterly meaningless and downright silly.  It's not too late to start polishing up the resume, Mr. Sheehan.  Sam Zell doesn't figure to have much need for sycophants like you.

It should come as no surprise that the biggest True Believer is the guy who created this train wreck, current Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimmons.  Chandler quotes him, too, about "hoping the commission will recognize the realities of the marketplace."  Isn't it funny how the Tribune CEO can spin on a dime?  Last April he was so cocky, he wouldn't even acknowledge the plain-obvious financial need for the Tribune to sell the Cubs.  Now just twelve months later and he is making out the very same Tribune Company as some sort of pauper in desperate need of regulatory mercy to protect their media monopoly.  Does FitzSimmons honestly think anyone but a Tribune shill would give such patented nonsense even the slightest consideration?

As Ringmaster Ned might have said at the conclusion of another Grand Prize Game, "Dennis FitzSimmons of Winnetka, Illinois, we'll be sending your prizes home to you."   Make that $6.4 million in "prizes" for the guy that lost the entire circus.  Would a cream pie in the face be in order here? 

It's all good news for Sox Fans.  The complete bust up of the Chicago media empire has already begun, and the most-critical step -- at least from a Sox Fan's perspective-- is already a fait accompli.  The Sox will no longer compete with the sister division of the local media empire.  Please don't mind us while we gloat over the continued silliness of the Tribune's biggest Bozo the Clowns as this final act plays out.

It's been 26 years overdue in coming.  On to the Graaaaaaand March!


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